Sputnik: In your view, how can Washington's refusal to grant the EU exemptions for Iran sanctions impact US-EU relations?
Chuck Freilich: Obviously it does not have a particularly beneficial impact, but I think the point is that European countries are coming to the conclusion that they really don't have too much of an alternative but to cooperate with the US on this. They don't like it, but I think they are coming around to that realization; the US has taken a very firm stance here and so, obviously, they would have wanted these exemptions but I think they'll get past it.
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Sputnik: What do you think Europe can actually offer their companies that are concerned about, you know, these sanctions that will be applied against them by the US? Do you think that they can offer them some kind of economic relief?
Chuck Freilich: It doesn't appear to be the case. As a matter of fact, I think the companies are, so to speak, voting with their feet because we have seen an absolute mass exit of European and other companies from deals with Iran. And the reality is that the American sanctions regime is taking place, it's coming into place even though the European government did not want to cooperate, but the companies are making it happen.
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Sputnik: Do you think Europe will be able to provide some kind of significant economic relief to Iran to make it, you know, still interesting for Iran to stay in the nuclear accord?
Chuck Freilich: Well, I think they are going to make an effort, go through the motions, and I'm sure they'll come up with some measures, but again I think the reality is what the companies are doing and I think it's going to become clearer to the Iranians pretty soon, a matter of weeks or months at most that the European government simply cannot live up to the commitment that they would like to be able to — that's when the crisis will hit.
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Sputnik: So, you think that Iran is going to end up pulling out of the deal?
Chuck Freilich: I think that the Iranians are probably too smart to pull out of the deal in one move. I also don't think that they'll commit a single violation which is so clear that they'll end up driving not just Europeans, but even Russia and China, the other members of the P6 [P5+1], into the American court. So, I think what they will probably do is a whole series of small measures, each one in and of itself may not be a gross violation, but at the end of a number of months, the combined effect will in effect be, whether declared or not, a de facto withdrawal. That's when there'll really be a severe crisis, when all of the P6 countries will have to decide how they react to this.
The views and opinions expressed by Chuck Freilich are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.